A trip to the fort provides visitors with insight into what life was like at Fort Point and its role in the country's military history. Tours can be taken independently, or with a guide.
San Francisco began as a Spanish colony established in 1776, and the spot where the fort now stands (at the narrowest part of the entrance to San Francisco Bay) was used as defense against invading forces.
Later Mexico gained control of the colony in 1835, but then passed to the United States when California was ceded in 1848. California officially became a state in 1850 and a few years later the Fort Point that stands today began to take shape. The fort was also the location of one of the first lighthouses on the West Coast, and at one point had three separate lights.
Waiting for war
The construction of the fort took eight years until in 1861 it was ready for war and stood waiting for invading Confederate forces with more than 100 cannons. The Civil War never came to Fort Point, however. and the fort was never continuously occupied the the Army again.
In the late 19th century military fort construction turned away from the brick masonry used at Fort Point, and instead turned to concrete for building and using rifles for defense instead of cannons.
A new era
In the 20th century Fort Point still served as an asset to the U.S. military as a site for barracks, storage and training. Visitors can see how these barracks were set up and how soldiers lived.
In the 1930s plans were drawn for a bridge spanning the entrance to San Francisco Bay - and Fort Point stood right in the path of these plans. However, the bridge's designer spared the fort and today the the Golden Gate Bridge stretches out above the heads of visitors. During World War II, soldiers responsible for guarding the Golden Gate Bridge were also stationed at the fort.
In 1970 Fort Point was named a National Historic Site, and today locals and tourists alike can see and learn about the fort that stood as a watchful guard for San Francisco.